Hamsters are small and gentle animals that often suffer from various diseases, one of which is Cushing’s disease.
Do hamsters die from Cushing’s disease?
Yes, hamsters die when they have Cushing’s disease, but they can recover, but still, the percentage of mortality is higher than that they will recover.
Hamsters can receive medication and therapy to recover, although treatment is expensive and the chances of recovery are small.
When hamsters have Cushing’s disease, they die more slowly if the disease develops at a slower pace, while if the disease spreads quickly, they will die in a few months or if they have a lot of suffering, euthanasia can be done.
In today’s article, you will learn everything related to Cushing’s disease in hamsters, why they die, how it occurs, and how to treat this dangerous disease.
Do hamsters die when they have Cushing’s disease?
Yes, unfortunately, hamsters often die when they have Cushing’s disease.
For the treatment of this disease, there are certain medicines such as:
Unfortunately, despite the use of these drugs, the chances are very small that the hamster will be able to successfully recover and continue to live normally.
Treating Cushing’s disease is very expensive, and despite treatment, most hamsters eventually die or have to be euthanized.
And if the hamster does not start treatment for this disease, then it is only a matter of time how long it will live.
Why does Cushing’s disease occur in hamsters?
Cushing’s disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, can occur in hamsters when their adrenal glands secrete too much cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that occurs as a reaction to some stress.
When cortisol production increases in hamsters it is caused by:
- an increase in the size of the adrenal gland
- a problem with the pituitary gland of the brain
Unfortunately, no hamster is immune to Cushing’s disease and it can occur in all breeds of hamsters, especially when the hamsters are 2-3 years old and it occurs more in male hamsters.
The only consolation is that Cushing’s disease is fortunately not contagious, that is, it is not transmitted from one hamster to another.
Unfortunately, hamsters with Cushing’s disease often die or have to be euthanized.
When hamsters have Cushing’s disease, treatment can be started, but besides the treatment being very expensive, the chances of them getting well are very small.
How do we know a hamster has Cushing’s disease?
When hamsters have hyperadrenocorticism can be noticed by certain symptoms that indicate that your pet, unfortunately, has Cushing’s disease.
Symptoms of Cushing’s disease in hamsters are:
- dry skin
- banding the fur
- gaining weight
- movement problems due to muscle weakness
- excessive need for water
- urinating more than normal
- skin sores
- weight loss
- increase in blood pressure
- digestive problems
- increase in blood sugar
- loss of elasticity of their skin
- fast fatigue
As you can see many of these symptoms are the same as other diseases that hamsters have and therefore it is difficult to find out if it is Cushing’s disease.
What are the problems that hamsters with Cushing’s disease have?
When hamsters get Cushing’s disease, they begin to experience various health problems. Most often they start having stones in the kidneys or bladder, as well as urinary tract infections.
Their skin becomes susceptible to infections, they get diabetes, and they have problems with proper blood clotting and increased blood pressure.
It is obvious that Cushing’s disease, after diagnosis, creates very severe consequences for hamsters.
How is Cushing’s disease detected in hamsters?
The only way to know for sure that a hamster has Cushing’s disease is through testing by a veterinarian.
In doing so, a urine sample is checked to check if the hamster has glucose, which if present then it is diabetes and not Cushing’s disease.
Another way to check is through a blood sample and testing the hamsters’ cortisol levels.
If the hamsters have an increased level of cortisol then it is Cushing’s disease, more precisely when they have twice as much cortisol they have this disease.
When hamsters have Cushing’s disease, they have hair loss on both sides of the body in the same places, and the skin changes color to a darker pigment.
When diagnosing Cushing’s disease in hamsters through the blood, taking a sample of their blood is a bit problematic due to the size of the vein and the limited access to it.
Since testing for this disease is quite expensive, many owners refuse to do this test on their beloved pets.
All the problems surrounding taking a blood sample and the price, which is expensive, are the reasons why hamsters often remain undiagnosed.
That’s why hamsters then die without proper treatment or are in so much pain that the owners are forced to decide on euthanasia as a way to end their unbearable suffering.
What are the treatments for Cushing’s disease in hamsters?
There are several treatments that can be used to treat hamsters with Cushing’s disease, but we must mention that they are quite expensive and do not guarantee that your pet will get well.
Although most hamsters die from this dangerous disease, it is still encouraging to say that some hamsters have completely recovered from Cushing’s disease.
Hamsters are often treated with treatments intended for dogs that have this disease, which is a bit problematic when it comes to hamsters because a mistake can be made in the dosage of the medicine used.
Medicines used for hamsters with Cushing’s disease are lysodren, trilostane, and anipryl.
There is also a drug specifically made for hamsters with hyperadrenocorticism called Vetoril, and it comes in tablet form, but it is a bit problematic to consume as it is harder to break into pieces due to the enteric coating.
By using this medicine, hamsters can improve their condition if it is used for a long time.
Apart from this special medicine for hamsters, ketoconazole is also used, which by its action kills the cells in the cortex of the adrenal glands, and is used until the hamster’s condition improves.
When we treat hamsters with some of these drugs, we need to constantly pay attention to the amount of water that the hamster drinks.
When he drinks less water then it can be said that the medicine gives positive results, and their skin and fur will start to improve.
If you leave the hamster without treatment and without the use of appropriate drugs, then the hamster will start to lose more and more weight, will not move, will get urinary infections, and will eventually die or have to be euthanized.
Diseases and problems in hamsters resembling Cushing’s disease
Sometimes hamsters do not have Cushing’s disease but have symptoms that are similar and can lead to a misdiagnosis for your pet.
That is why it is very important to make a correct diagnosis of the condition of the hamster because the wrong therapy is not good for their health at all.
Here are some of those similar diseases and health problems that resemble Cushing’s disease.
When hamsters have cutaneous lymphoma it is sometimes misdiagnosed as Cushing’s disease.
The symptoms of both diseases are similar:
- hair loss
- losing their weight
- loss of appetite for food
- darkening of skin color
- occurrence of tumors
Cutaneous lymphoma is even more dangerous than Cushing’s disease and the disease spreads very quickly in hamsters, and they die in 2-3 months.
Stress is another reason that can cause the chronic activation of the axis (HPA-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), which can lead to an increase in cortisol secretion and the appearance of the following symptoms:
- gaining weight
- loss of appetite
These symptoms often lead to a wrong diagnosis, that is, they are similar to the symptoms of Cushing’s disease.
Can hamsters live long with Cushing’s disease?
How long hamsters with Cushing’s disease will live is difficult to estimate, as it varies, but they can usually live for a few more months.
It all depends on how healthy the hamster was before getting Cushing’s disease, as well as how quickly the disease progresses in the body.
The problem with Cushing’s disease is that because of it, hamsters get other diseases like diabetes, urinary infections, and other problems.
All of these secondary diseases caused by Cushing’s disease can determine how long a hamster’s lifespan will be.
Hamsters with Cushing’s disease die within a few months, although treatment is available, which is very expensive and does not guarantee a complete cure.
Cushing’s disease is an increase in the production of cortisol in the adrenal glands, as a reaction to stress.
When hamsters have Cushing’s disease, they are susceptible to other diseases such as diabetes, urinary tract infections, and other health problems that make their condition even more difficult.
There are drugs that are used to treat Cushing’s disease in hamsters, but whether they will be cured completely cannot be known, it all depends on the hamster itself and how far the disease has spread throughout its body.
If the hamster is in too much pain and suffering then it will either die quickly or unfortunately, euthanasia must be done to save the hamster from further suffering.